Why Finnish design should embrace the primitive side

You’ve probably heard a dozen times that Scandinavian – and Finnish – design is clean-lined and chilled in its color schemes. But is there a danger of becoming too cold, too sterile?

When you ask a Finnish designer about their sources of inspiration, nature and the Finnish mentality usually pop up. Same goes for Tapio Anttila, the founder and furniture designer of Tapio Anttila Collection. However, Anttila doesn’t regard the connection between inspiration and nature, or national identity, as straightforward.

“Designers draw inspiration from all fields of life. The trick is to blend all those ingredients together to create something unique,” Anttila says.

To be unique, you have stand out from the crowd. Anttila claims: “Finnish brands should be bold in their design and bring out the primal aspects of being Finnish in their marketing. We should avoid becoming too clinical in our approach, so we can distinguish ourselves from Scandinavian brands.”

Despite holding a unique approach in high regard, Anttila feels that in many ways the Scandinavian style applies to Finnish designers as well.

“Traditionally, we’ve adopted the idea that a stylistically balanced product with a clear function is the goal. We’re not interested in trends. The product, or its price, shouldn’t go over the top for an everyday consumer. In my design, I always try to solve everyday problems.”
Tapio Anttila

Tapio Anttila Collection / Aki Loponen

Fight the climate change – buy smart, buy once

For Finnish designers the challenge has always been to outsmart the competition. According to Anttila, combining our primitive side and Scandinavian functionality with high quality products and Finnish materials is our recipe for success. This approach can even help preserve our planet.

Designing furniture that lasts from one generation to the next is environmentally friendly, as the items stay in the family or have resale value. Wooden items, traditionally an important part of Scandinavian and Finnish design, also get praise from Anttila: “Wood is a carbon sink. Finland has the highest forest density in the world, but our production is centered around pulp. We should start utilizing our natural resources in our design items.”


Anttila sees genuine business opportunities for Finnish design, if it’s branded in the right way. Rather than concentrating on the details of the furniture, there should be a feeling attached to the brand and product. “When a long-lasting product has style, many uses and also manages to tell a unique story, we have a winning hand,” Anttila concludes.

Tapio Anttila is a furniture and interior designer for his own brand Tapio Anttila Collection. His aim is to solve everyday problems by creating affordable but high-quality furniture. He places extra emphasis on being ecological.